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Ethical Scenarios In The World Of Intelligence

1793 words - 7 pages

Right or wrong, this question can be applied to almost every decision made throughout your day. For most decisions made in a day the answer to this question is usually simple, but from time to time we run into crossroads were which path to take is not clear. This may be a little decision like choosing to give money back when you have been overpaid all the way to large decisions such as whether abortion, when the mother is not at risk, is right or wrong. In the profession of intelligence these ethical decision may present themselves in a number of ways. In the paper we are going to discuss two fictional case studies that were presented in the book Fair Play by James Olson, the former director of Counter Intelligence for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Both scenarios will present plausible ethical dilemmas that may be encountered in modern day espionage.
Scenario1, Trojan Horse: The Chinese foreign intelligence service, the Ministry for State Security (MSS), has as one of its primary operational objectives to steal defense- related technology from the United States. The Cox Report, released in 1999, documented for the first time the extent of such technology theft by MSS and analyzed the implications for U.S. national security. The MSS uses variety of illegal mechanisms and cutouts (clandestine intermediaries) to acquire embargoed U.S. technology. The CIA learns from a sensitive intelligence source that the MSS is using a French aerospace company as a front for illegal acquisitions. The French company purchases the items from a trading company in Long Beach, California, and then secretly transfers them to the Chinese. The same CIA source indicates that the MSS has just tasked its French cutout to acquire on its behalf an extremely sensitive U.S.-manufactured radar tracking system. The heart of the radar tracking system is a U.S. high-performance computer. This system has several different military applications and, as a result, cannot be legally sold to China. It also has a variety of legitimate uses in civilian aviation. The CIA, using sensitive intelligence assets, has the capability of inserting a “doctored” or sabotaged computer into the illegal MSS technology acquisition channel-through Long Beach, to France, and then to China. The sabotaged computer can be programmed so that the radar tracking system will fail at a critical moment of high usage. The false information could cause an accident for the military users, or, if the system is assigned by China to one of its major airports, could result in a civilian aircraft disaster. The CIA has no way of knowing the identity of the ultimate end user of the sabotaged computer. (Olson, 2006, pp. 49-50)
The “Trojan Horse” scenario above is an obvious moral dilemma. The CIA is charged with a national security mission within the United States (US) government. They have the obligation to protect the American...

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